Barely Afloat

I am pretty sure there is little else I can put on my shoulders right now, on my metaphoric plate of life. Literally, one more thing may cause me to topple over and explode – turn to dust, ash, disintegrate. And at this point, maybe that would be better.

In the last few months, I have developed what my therapist is calling Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. If you don’t know what that means, it means I am reluctant to leave my house – which is affecting my work attendance. By not attending work, affects our finances, as the only person making steady income to support our bills. Which means, we are very very behind on every bill we owe, including rent. A contributor to the reluctance to go to work is Kim’s health has been on the fritz lately, and I know I have discussed it here before.

She was having trouble walking, stumbling around, losing function in both her legs and her arms. She was becoming clumsy, dropping everything, the grip in her hands were gone. She was finding it difficult to see, focus on anything in her vision. She couldn’t hold our kid. She couldn’t help take care of her and it made me nervous to leave the house and leave the two of them without proper support.

It was starting to scare the shit out of me. Every doctor we went to see sent us to a new doctor, racking up more and more debt that we don’t have money for. When we Googled it, which remind me again, not to do that, I know – I know – we found that all the symptoms really pointed to something neurological, Multiple Sclerosis to be exact.

However, what we found out instead was Kim had developed Lithium poisoning. And Lithium poisoning is no joke. It can mess up a ton of things in the body and affects the body much like other neurological disorders.

We found out that due to her bipolar medication, Lithium, in three months, her kidney function was cut in half. She was being poisoned by the medication that was supposed to help her. This contributed to the symptoms that we originally were concerned may have been multiple sclerosis. The neurologist had her Lithium levels checked and they were well beyond a safe range and the psychiatrist took her off the medication for a bit.

So, while, currently we are seeing some improvement since she has been taken off it, she is still experiencing some of the symptoms on a smaller scale – like her hands still shake, but she is at least able to sign her name somewhat legible now. And, we are happy to know that she doesn’t have MS, but instead she was being poisoned.

**Which I know sounds terrible, perhaps even the same kind of terrible, but at least it’s been caught and likely reversible! I am trying to look on the bright side here!**

After the last three months of craziness with Kim’s health and my concern for leaving her alone with Punky, I wasn’t going to work and was focusing on taking care of things at home. What does that mean? It means we are so far behind in our bills and finances that we have to move out of our apartment and go live with Kim’s mom in their basement. Yes. We will be basement dwellers with a two year old. I’m so very not pleased about this, mostly because I feel like such a damn failure as a person, a partner, and a mother.

I’m 30 years old and we are going to pack all our things and go live with her parents. It continues to sadden me. I am so grateful that we have this option and we aren’t instead on the street somewhere, but it’s really a very humbling experience to know you can’t support your family or your kid the way you want to. I am still very grateful to have the support of her family around us right now when things are so out of whack mentally and physically with both of us. We both decided to break at the same time!

I’m also disappointed in myself that I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity for so long that I broke our finances and was no longer able to be counted on to be a provider for our family. So while this is not the most ideal situation I would want us to be in, we will have more support from Kim’s parents while she is on the mend from her ordeal medically and I will be feeling more confident in leaving them alone – so that I can go back to work and start making money again.

Luckily for us, and one of the prouder moments of my last few months, Miss Punky isn’t the wiser of what’s going on. Its always my concern that she will never knew the struggles we go through – not like I did when I was growing up.

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Instead she doesn’t know what’s going on, but she’s still going to school, which we have had trouble paying the tuition on, but I just can’t let it go, yet. And she’s making friends and her teachers say she has really come out of her shell a lot! How in the world do I take that away from her!?

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She’s interacting, exploring and overall thriving in her toddler-age and that is something I am most excited about. So even though we have some troubles right now, the bright light of our life is always Punky, even when she’s driving me nuts – with whining and tantrums – a little hug or cuddle and my heart is unburdened a little and my spirit is uplifted just a bit more.

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We are in the process of packing up our belongings and finding a storage place to keep them for maybe 6 months or so, hopefully by then we will be back on our feet and house hunting. Rental houses, but house hunting nonetheless. I really don’t want to live in an apartment again. I would love to have Punky living in a house with a yard, where she can grow and thrive and play. And … maybe get that puppy she’s been asking for, thanks to her Mama’s suggestions!

So, while we are not really on the path I would like to be on for our future, it will only be for a small bit, a little while and in the end, the goal is to be better than we were to start with. Hopefully. Here’s to a big hope. So while this post may be full of what I feel like is overwhelming depression, we are wading in a pool of uncertainty, I’m not even sure where to begin – the future is in sight, the goal for better things is in our minds, but it sure does feel like a long way away!

Maybe Miss Punky will keep our spirits light by learning to play the piano! Or … just banging on the keys of the piano she discovered at Papaw’s house.

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18 thoughts on “Barely Afloat

  1. I lived with my mom at her parents’ for a bit when I was 8. I was a little aware of it being a bad thing (my parents’ had problems), but overall I loved living with my grandma and grandpa. Hopefully Punky will have similar feelings of joy about being close to her grandparents and not be very aware of what’s causing it.

    • Thanks, that’s definitely my hope. She very much loves her Grammy and Papa and she’s already so close to them! I had hoped this will be a positive experience for her!

  2. Oh my gosh, my heart aches for you, going through all of this! No wonder you were fearful of leaving the house – I would be too, if I had a partner going through all of that! That is terrifying, and I’m glad she got a diagnosis and is on the mend, slowly but surely.

    I’m so sorry to hear you’re down on your luck financially because of all of this. But maybe these next 6 months or so will give you a chance to pay all of your debts, save a little and move into a house next. There’s gotta be a silver lining, even if you can’t see it just yet.

    You are NOT a failure. Furthest thing from it. You do the best you can for your family, and that’s all any of us can ever do. You’ll pick up the pieces, get on a path to healing and move on to greener pastures.

    • Thanks Lindsay! I really needed the words of encouragement. I appreciate it. I can see a small silver lining, I’m just too impatient to wait for it! LOL. We are hoping this is the diagnosis we are looking for, her symptoms are starting to dissipate, so it’s a good start, and hopefully the end of this nightmare in the health department!

  3. I know nothing I say will make it all better. But just remember that you are not a failure. You are doing everything you can for your family. And I think that shows nothing but strength. And remember … just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming … * hugs* to you all.

    • Thanks, Mary! Your words are so sweet, grateful for them! We are swimming, right now it feels like its against the current, but we are getting somewhere – eventually we may reach land!

  4. Is welfare or rental assistance not an option? There’s nothing wrong with government assistance when you are TRYING. And you have been trying. Sometimes, it is good to take some weight off your shoulders, too. So, while moving into a basement might not be ideal, at least it’s a place to go, and at least it will give you time to catch up, right? It could be so much worse.

    • Thanks, Stephanie! I have looked into these types of assistance and I make too much money. Unfortunately, its not really an option. With Kim being a single person in the eyes of the government, she could get assistance, but the assistance is minimal and my name is on all the big stuff, because her assistance is minimal. So. its definitely something we looked into, but not an option for our family dynamic.

      • What about temporary medical leave/short term disability? You can speak to your therapist about it!

      • I have FMLA pending, but it still doesn’t pay the bills. I’m all out of PTO for that and with us not being married, I can’t get short term disability for Kim’s conditions. We have definitely looked into that option too.

  5. Rachael, I hope that by now, you realize that you are not a failure. You have just been dealt some shitty cards and you are doing your best to play out this round. I am sooooo glad that Kim does not have MS. My heart sank when I read your description of her symptoms. While Lithium poisoning sucks too, at least they can take her off it and alleviate some of her symptoms immediately. I’m really glad that your medical team was able to figure it out.

    As for moving- as long as you get along with your in-laws, it might not be so bad. I lived with my grandparents until I was 8, and I felt so safe and loved by them. I also learned how to interact with adults better, which shaped me to become a much more mature kid throughout my life. I’m glad you have this option, and hope that it lessens a lot of the financial and caretaking burden on you.

    Girl everything is going to be alright. Soon you will be able to see the sun through the clouds.

    • I’m really appreciative of your words and the reassurance about having Punky living with the grandparents. I just don’t want her to know of anything being wrong – this is a great outlook! Thanks for that!

  6. Rachael, I wish we lived closer to each other so that I could give you a hug and watch P so you could get some rest. I can understand the stress you must be under right now because I was in a similar place when I was laid off last summer. What I can say is that you WILL make it through this. It may seem like an uphill climb right now but like you said, focusing on the positive is key. You have a supportive partner, P is healthy and you have a home where you’re able to stay for the time being and those are all good things. You have no idea what kind of wonderful memories are yet to be made in that basement. It may end up being a period of your life that you look back on with some good memories. Sending positive thoughts your way.

    • I’m constantly wishing we lived closer, Kristin! I really needed your words, you are right, there are probably lots of great memories going to be made in that basement and I will be blogging all of them! LOL

  7. Doing what’s best for your family is the complete opposite of being a fqilure. I’m sorry you’re going through such a rough situation. Stay strong, sending positive thoughts.

  8. In 20 years the only things that P are going to remember are her loving mamas, playing with her grandparents, and all the love and joy in her house. She’s not going to care or remember what kind of clothes she wore, or what kind of toys she had etc. My parents were extremely poor when I was younger and I honestly had no idea until I was an adult because our lives were so full and happy…and that’s what I remember! P is so very lucky to have such wonderful parents who love her so dearly. It can only go up from here 🙂 Hang in there!

  9. So here’s the thing, my parents certainly weren’t rich. We lived pay check to pay check quite a bit. The thing about that though? I never really, really knew it. I knew that we couldn’t go to disneyland every year (only once) and I knew that I had to take care of my toys because they cost money and you take care of things that cost money. But I don’t remember being “poor.” I remember a summer when I was maybe 13, and everything broke. EVERYTHING! The fridge, the dryer and the air conditioners to the bedrooms. So we had to prioritize. The fridge got replaced. But we schlepped it to the laundromat for the dryer, and we dragged our mattresses to the living room and slept on the floor because that was the only room with a working air conditioner. I look back on it fondly as an adventure, not with bitterness or disappointment in my parents. They made it work, which is what you’re doing. She has a roof over her head and food in her belly and two mamas that love her, that’s all she needs. Hugs.

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